Understanding how Republicans have embraced fascism.
Like so many others in America, I have watched family members embrace fascism in recent years. Watching those you love take up an ideology that will hurt you, harm your children, and bring suffering to your neighbors is horrifying. It is even more frustrating when you try to talk to them about it. They seem not to grasp the consequences of their voting behavior and the ideology they embrace. As a country, over the last several years, we’ve had conversations about fascism, nationalism, white supremacy, and all that the right has embraced. But are we having conversations that matter?
Understanding what fascism is.
If you haven’t had a conversation like this, undoubtedly you’ve seen it online or on TV, but speaking to the right about fascism has often led to their accusations that the left is fascists or Antifa is fascists. Marxists, communists, socialists, fascists: these are the words that the right uses to describe people who vote left, often interchanging them synonymously, with no idea what any of these words mean. Many of us have even heard them point to Hitler as a socialist and fascist. So we all must understand what these words mean and how to push back against their narrative.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, fascists have a strong hatred for all forms of Marxism, oppose democracy, and attack cultural liberalism claiming it undermines traditional morality. Fascists have totalitarian ambitions, conservative economic policies, embrace corporatism, and support military values. They envision a racial hierarchy, win support with mass mobilization, believe a single leader should have absolute power, support strongman masculinity, and believe in using education to teach blind obedience to authority. Fascists react to their opponents with violence, clutch onto extreme nationalism, are anti-urban, and mysoginistic.
It’s an extended definition and a thorough article from Encyclopedia Britannica if you want to take the time to read it. Let’s talk about each of these definitions and how they pertain to the modern-day Republican Party.
Fascists have a hatred for all forms of Marxism.
Last year I made a clip of highlights from the Texas Governor’s debate (which didn’t include Greg Abbott). It was a complete shit-show, but the word “Marxism” was thrown around a lot. First, Chad Prather called CRT “Marxism,” and so did Don Huffines, who doubled down by saying, “Marxism has taken over our schools, seminaries, and media.” Then Allen West said he read the Communist Manifesto and was against funding cultural Marxism.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, there are various forms of Marxism and can be summed up as the political and economic theories of Karl Marx. Marx’s theory is a classless society where every person works for the common good, and class struggle is gone.
Neither Democrats, Liberals, or Progressives are Marxists since all three operate within the capitalist system. However, the left-leaning voters recognize the vast class inequalities in America and strive to make the country more fair and equal. Since American Capitalism requires inequality to function, Republicans view any efforts to end inequality in America as anti-Capitalism and Marxism.
What did Adolf Hitler say about Marxism?
In this 1923 interview with Hitler, he made the following statements:
- No healthy man is a Marxist, for being healthy, he recognizes the value of personality.
- We must root out the taint of Marxism.
But wasn’t Hitler a socialist, you ask? No, the Nazis hated socialists. The confusion often comes from the Nazi’s name of their political party. Nazi actually stands for the National Socialist German Work Party. Although the Nazis did pursue a level of government intervention in the economy that would shock doctrinaire free marketeers, most supporters of Nazism embraced the party because they saw it as an enemy and an alternative to the political left.
Republicans have a fundemental misunderstanding of Nazism and Nazi ideology that this VOX article called: the ‘Americanization’ of Nazism: an effort to put Nazi Germany somewhere on the American political axis, where it very much does not belong.
Hitler also said, “Socialism is the science of dealing with the common wealth. Communism is not Socialism. Marxism is not Socialism. The Marxians have stolen the term and confused its meaning. I shall take Socialism away from the Socialists.”
(Click on any of the linked articles in the above section to further explore Hitler’s beliefs and what Nazis stood for.)
Fascists oppose democracy.
January 6 was a violent attack on democracy.
Republicans don’t consider Democrats as political opposition. They view Democrats as their enemy. The Republican policy agenda is highly unpopular because America’s political system is profoundly unrepresentative. The coalition the right can assemble — overwhelmingly white Christian, heavily rural, and increasingly less educated — is a shrinking minority that has lost the popular vote in seven of the past eight presidential contests.
The Republicans’ attacks on voting over the last two years have introduced hundreds of bills in various states and Congress to make voting complicated and inaccessible. Our democracy relies on all eligible voters participating to have their voices heard in elections. The GOP is seeking to end that.
The original description of the big lie appeared in Mein Kampf.
Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s minister of propaganda defined “the big lie” as: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
This is why Trump and the GOP’s lies regarding election fraud are referred to as “the big lie.”
Fascists attack cultural liberalism claiming it undermines traditional morality.
Cultural Liberalism or Social Liberalism is a liberal view of society that stresses the freedom of individuals from cultural norms. Cultural liberals believe that society should not impose any specific code of behavior. They see themselves as defending the moral rights of nonconformists to express their own identity however they see fit as long as they do not harm anyone else.
Some ideas of social liberalism include:
- Regulations over private enterprise in the interests of workers, consumers, and fair competition.
- Support of abortion rights.
- Environmental protection laws.
- Support of immigration and multiculturalism.
- Support of gay marriage.
- The protection of human rights, civil rights, and civil liberties.
Benito Mussolini shared the Republican’s views on morality and liberalism in his 1932 essay titled “The Doctrine of Fascism.”
(You can find a translated version of the essay here.)
Mussolini believed that fascism was a moral law that bound together individuals and the generations into a tradition and that individuals should sacrifice their private interests. He said that liberalism denied the state in the interests of the particular individual; fascism reaffirms the state as the true reality of the individual.
The GOP’s opposition to socially liberal positions based on their definition of morality mirrors the beliefs of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.
Fascists have totalitarian ambitions.
Totalitarianism is a form of government and a political system that prohibits all opposition parties.
Opposing the freedom to vote is only one way the Republican Party pushes for a one-party rule. Their willingness to overthrow a free and fair election on January 6. One-party rule is the creed of Trump supporters all over America. Their obstruction in the U.S. Senate and extreme gerrymandering in Texas are examples of how the GOP is pushing for one-party rule.
Fascists embrace conservative economic policies.
Fiscal conservatives advocate tax cuts, reduced government spending, free markets, deregulation, privatization, free trade, and minimal government debt. However, conservative economic policies have done more to harm our country and the people living in it than almost any other policies in our history.
Ronald Reagan invented Reaganomics, the idea that removing regulations and cutting taxes for the wealthy would “trickle down” from those on the top of the ladder to those on the bottom. However, forty years later, we know that’s not what happened. Under Reagan, the national debt rose from about $900 billion in 1980 to $3 trillion in 1990. Deregulation of the financial sector allowed commercial banks to speculate on Wall Street with other people’s money and removed the prohibition on interstate banking, paving the way for creating “too big to fail” banks. Reagan-era cutbacks increased both poverty and inequality.
While many Americans today recognize the abject failures of Reaganomics, Republicans still embrace the ideology.
The Bush-era tax cuts focused on the wealthy, reversed the federal budget surplus left by President Bill Clinton, and resulted in escalating budget deficits that left our country fiscally weakened going into the Great Recession. And in the 2000s, under Bush administration policies, investment growth, employment growth, and income growth were all at their lowest point of any economic expansion in post-World War II U.S. history.
Fascists embrace corporatism.
There are two words that prove, like fascists, Republicans also embrace corporatism. Citizens United.
Citizens United was the Conservative-led Supreme Court decision that gave corporations the inalienable right to buy an election. They called it “free speech.”
Citizens United has ushered in massive increases in political spending from outside groups, dramatically expanding the already outsized political influence of wealthy donors, corporations, and special interest groups. It’s pay-to-play politics.
This year alone, Democrats have introduced seven separate bills which would end dark money in politics. Republicans oppose each one of these bills.
Fascists support military values.
This year alone, Congress budgeted $740 billion to go to our Department of Defense.
At the same time, Republicans have blocked billion small business relief measures for hard-hit American entrepreneurs, blocked the Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act, and blocked funding for baby formula.
Although Republicans were willing to fund wars and independent defense contractors, they were unwilling to fund a program that would keep American children from going hungry.
Fascists envision a racial hierarchy.
We’ve heard a lot lately about the “Great Replacement Theory.” This idea began in white supremacist circles but has since moved more mainstream on the political right in this country and among many Republicans, explicitly or implicitly.
Republicans’ obsession over the fake border crisis that Greg Abbott invented is based on the “Great Replacement Theory” and white supremacy.
The GOP tweeted and posted on Facebook day in and day out using coded language to appeal to the racist right about an invasion of immigrants coming over the border.
Even after the Buffalo massacre, they haven’t stopped or toned down the rhetoric. Like the massacre at the El Paso Walmart and the Charleston murder, the Buffalo killer committed his atrocity based on right-wing ideology frequently repeated by Republican politicians and media.
Fascists win support with mass mobilization.
A year and a half after January 6, Donald Trump is still holding “Save America” rallies regularly. Just last week, he had a rally in Austin. He’s not the president anymore, and he isn’t running for 2024.
The entire point of these ongoing Trump rallies is the continuance of mass mobilization supporting the fascist movement that he created. These rallies continue to spread ideas of white supremacy and the big lie. It’s the only way to keep the movement going.
Fascists believe a single leader should have absolute power.
Donald Trump. Worse yet, since January 6, Trump’s support within the Republican Party has not faltered. The Cult of Trump. A reality-TV celebrity brainwashed millions of Americans with a now-defunct Twitter feed. One of right-wing authoritarianism’s big talking points and strategies is to label democratic systems as tyrannical. Mussolini was the first to say that democracies are tyrannical, democracies are the problem.
Hitler and the Nazis were a political cult.
Psychologically the “big lie” was very important because it prevented his propagandized followers from having to reckon with the fact that he lost. And it maintains him as their hero, as their winner, as the invincible Trump, but also as the wronged Trump, the victim. Victimhood is extremely important for all autocrats. They always have to be the biggest victim.
Fascists support strongman masculinity.
Over the last year, Republicans have become hyper-fixated on masculinity. Within conservative, white evangelical spaces, there is the idea that masculinity is a God-given thing. This has been a refrain for decades now. Christian manhood has long been equated with rugged, militant quality, particularly in conservative circles. Trump honed into this message and set a tone of toxic masculinity.
Mussolini stated in the Italian parliament: War is to men as maternity is to women.
Fascists believe in using education to teach blind obedience to authority.
Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.
From the 1920s onwards, the Nazi Party targeted the German youth as a unique audience for its propaganda messages.
Is this what Republicans are doing by burning books and prohibiting teachers from talking about Black History? While they aren’t as extreme as Hitler’s Youth yet, it’s clear that the GOP continues to embrace white supremacy and wants to preserve the image of America’s whiteness.
Fascists react to their opponents with violence.
January 6 was violent. Death threats, gerrymandering, and voter suppression are being normalized by America’s right to keep Trumpism alive. A poll last year told us that almost one in three Republicans say violence may be necessary to ‘save’ America. And the GOP’s violent rhetoric keeps getting worse.
Every fascist dictator in history used violence against their opposition. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, none are innocent.
In America, the rise of domestic terrorism is driven by white supremacy and the far-right. U.S. national security and law enforcement agencies are battling what they describe as a “significant jump” in threats from domestic terrorists, many of whom are acting on their own and motivated by racial hatred or anti-government ideology.
This week, Congress introduced the “Domestic Terrorist Prevention Act,” and 203 Republicans voted against it.
Fascists clutch onto extreme nationalism.
Last week, ousted-GOP member Liz Chaney said, “The GOP leadership has enabled white nationalism.” Few disagree with her.
Last month, the Washington Post published a piece titled “The GOP is no longer a party. Instead, it’s a movement dedicated to imposing white Christian nationalism.”
Republicans have even embraced nationalism slogans, like “America First.” Trump’s “America First” nationalism is defined by race and rooted in disdain for foreigners. It’s an ethnonationalism anchored by policies like the Muslim ban, the border wall, and family separation.
Fascists are anti-urban.
Republicans hate American cities. The GOP portrays cities as hellscapes of violence, even though there’s a general resurgence of crime, even in suburban areas. The 2012 Republican Party Platform, for example, denounced “sustainable development,” often associated with urbanist design principles, as nothing less than an assault on “the American way of life of private property ownership, single-family homes, private car ownership, and individual travel choices, and privately owned farms.”
Fascists are mysoginistic.
Republican Texas legislators introduced a bill last year to give any woman who receives an abortion the death penalty. Republican candidates running for office in Michigan have all said that they want to prohibit women from accessing contraceptives. And next month, the Supreme Court is positioned to completely take away bodily autonomy.
The Nazi movement also had a role for women, and that was strictly in the home as mothers and child-bearers.
Republicans check every single box for fascism.
It can get worse, and it will get worse if we don’t get them out of office. We all know that 11 million people died in the Holocaust, but did you know that historians estimate that between 9 and 60 million were killed under Joseph Stalin’s reign? And it’s estimated that Mao Zedong killed more than those two dictators combined.
It isn’t only genocide that happens in fascist countries. Famine and political murders are pretty common.
What’s clear is that 59% of Republicans view Democrats as enemies, not political opposition. One in three Republicans is willing to commit political violence. The Supreme Court has sentenced thousands of women to death by blocking access to safe abortions. And the GOP has pushed legislation to kill women who make decisions about their bodies.
Famous last words: It can’t get any worse.
Vote because your life depends on it.
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